Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wine and jazz - in Bordeaux

Ah, the places you find jazz when you least expect it. That's all the more reason to cherish the moment. We're just back from a 10-day Bordeaux river cruise with stops at significant historic sites and world-class wine-making chateaus along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and the Geronde Estuary. TV travel journalist Burt Wolf hosted the trip.

One of the region's many chateaus
The unexpected bonus came on Thursday October 20, while the Scenic Diamond was docked in Bourg, a village-sized city near the coast in southwestern France, population roughly 2,200. The ship's after-dinner entertainment was the Bordeaux-based Jazz River Trio, which plays New Orleans-style traditional jazz with a most unusual instrumental combination.
Jazz River Trio

Stephane Borde plays banjo, Bertrand Tessier plays tenor sax and Fred Dupin plays the sousaphone - with a small cymbal mounted near the keys. Dupin used his left hand to add interesting accents in addition to his rhythmic work and solo moments on the horn, a portable cousin of the tuba that was developed for marching bands.

The band's hour-long set tended toward classic jazz. The repertoire included "Dinah," "All of Me" and "My Blue Heaven," among others. Borde curiously introduced Ray Noble's 1938 classic "Cherokee" as a "very modern song." 

Allan Grissette
Quite appropriately, the trio performed two compositions by New Orleans-born clarinetist Sidney Bechet, who spent the last nine years of his life living in France (1960-1969). He moved there because he had a big following in France and had grown tired of the U.S. jazz scene. The band performed Bechet's "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" (the memorable theme from Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris") and "Petit Fleur."

Fellow passenger Allan Grissette joined the band for the last half of the set. He has been playing drums with the San Francisco-based Devil Mountain Jazz Band since the 1980s. Grissette had his sticks with him but there was no drum kit on the ship. So he borrowed a small plastic bucket from the bar and used that quite effectively as a makeshift snare.
Dupin, Zubanovic, Borde, Grissette, Bubics, Tessier
The evening ended with two more players: Hotel Director Milenko Zubanovic on guitar and vocals, and ship's versatile staff musician Tamas Bubics on alto sax as the band closed its set with "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "What a Wonderful World."

A wonderful world, and small world, indeed.
Even the grapevines are getting autumn leaves

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